Isaiah 66: 10-14 

Psalm 66: 1-11, 14-18 

Galatians 6: 1-10, 14-16 

St. Luke 10: 1-12, 16-20 

“Zero Self-Esteem” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

As I observe the times we live in there is a concept that I’ve  noticed as permeated throughout our American, and at large even  Western, culture. Whether it be the schools, psychologists, our  doctors, the media, political events, sports, Hollywood, etc.; I see  all the institutions of our nation promoting having high self esteem. In every institution, no matter from whom or where it  appears as if there is a unanimous consensus that humans need  to have high self-esteem in order to be healthy and productive  and overall happy. On the flipside, low self-esteem is diagnosed  as something bad, usually connected to obnoxious behaviors or  depression. In order to combat feelings of worthlessness we as a  people promote various uplifting programs that generate within us  knowledge that we can do things. 

This self-esteem boosting mentality that has spread  throughout every part of our American life naturally is uplifting and  ego boosting. We are taught to love our selves, to be comfortable  in our skins, and learn to accept who we are. Likewise we also  generate a culture of acceptance where as a society to compel  each other to accept the other so as to continually foster a sense  of heightened worth. We observe our glories and focus on our  achievements, while also attempting to make all feel glorious. In  an attempt to equally boost self-esteem participation awards are 

provided to all. Winning became offensive for that would imply a  loser. To prevent self-loathing, we are encouraged to project our  sins on to others; it’s not my fault but their fault. Self-improvement  also ceases to be acceptable for that implies that there is  something that needs to be improved. And then sin in of itself is  abolished for in an effort to protect the fragile minds of the  uplifting culture no one can do wrong. 

Where did we go wrong? All we intended to do was to  prevent people from feeling sad about themselves; to encourage  them. Yet in the end all we truly did was create a culture of pride;  

Pride, the deadliest of all the sins. You’ve heard of the seven  deadly sins, well according to such the worst is pride, for the root  of all sin comes from pride. In fact all sin stems from the first sin  committed which was committed out of pride. And today, call it  what you want – pride, vane-glory, forced acceptance, self-love,  ego boosting, high self-esteem – all of it has become a huge thorn  in the side of the Church. 

To elaborate on what I mean, just look up “low self-esteem.”  Everything that pops up, short of an explanation, will be means of  identifying and then combating against having low self-esteem.  The general culture views have low self-esteem as a bad thing.  What if they are all wrong? 

Is it at any point acceptable to have low self-esteem, to say  hate yourself? The answer is obviously yes. So now the question  is when? What if I said always?

There is a very much loved concept that is shared by the  pastors of the NALC. It goes as such: I do not have self-esteem, I  don’t just have low self-esteem but zero self-esteem; instead I  have complete esteem in God. Basically, I acknowledge that I am  a poor-wretched fallen human who deserves to go to Hell for woe  is me, but blessings upon blessings to God who saved me from  myself and generates within me good fruit. If any good things  come out of you they came first and only from God, and without  God all that come out of you is evil. That is why the most biblically  correct desirable state of mind is to have zero self-esteem in our  own fallen human abilities but place our faith completely in God. 

So by now you may have noticed that I’m not a big fan of this  culture of vanity we live in. In fact if you’ve been paying attention  to my sermons and lessons for the past two years you may have  realized I intentionally use self-degrading terms to define my own  mean estate as a fallen human being as well as all of humanity.  Words I intentionally use to describe us include rags, worthless  worms, wicked, evil, etc. This is to highlight the fact that we are  sinners and if it wasn’t for the unconditional sacrifice of our Lord  and Savior on that dreaded tree then our just reward, each and  every one of us, would have been Hell. The only reason why we  are going to Heaven is because of Christ, and on no account of  anything we have done. There is nothing in ourselves we should  be proud in, but everything in Christ. 

As to our culture of vanity, something interesting, if you were  to read Solomon’s book in the Old Testament called,  “Ecclesiastes,” you would realize that the entirety of Solomon’s  book is about proclaiming that all is vanity. And he is very 

emphatic about his proclamation, so emphatic that the totality of  the book is to explain why he, the wisest of humans, knows all  that we fallen humans do is done in vain. So considering the  times Solomon lived in compared to today and our culture’s  outright insistence on demolishing low self-esteem, I would dare  say that Solomon would consider our generation as the most vain  of all vain generations. So if you get the chance, read  Ecclesiastes, it’s a surprisingly humorous read, for Solomon  doesn’t mince words, and nothing escapes his ire.  

I understand if this whole countercultural biblically centric  concept of zero self-esteem might sound strange at best or  horrifying at worst. But I tell you it is truly the best approach, for in  the end it exposes the truth of our sinfulness while also proving  hope in he who is the source of all that is good. The intent is to  avoid self-worship, and then shift our focus away from trying to  make ourselves feel better through our own powers, which is like  trying to clean with a dirty bacteria infested rag, but to place our  eyes first on the Kingdom of God. 

Our second reading really hits home this approach when it  says, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing,  he deceives himself.” We are nothing. According to our own  human powers, we are all nothing. Therefore the appropriate  amount of self-esteem for us who are nothing is zero, and if you  were to think you are something then you are deceiving yourself.  But then it says, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of  our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do not boast in yourself, but instead boast  in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do not place esteem in 

yourself, but instead place esteem in the cross of our Lord Jesus  Christ. 

Other context we can use includes say our prayer of the day  which reads, “peace comes from you alone.” In other words  peace never comes from us humans ; we can never accomplish  peace, but Christ alone can. Other context, our Gospel which  reads, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are  subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  In other words, do rejoice in yourself but God. 

And still more context to support why we should have zero  self-esteem in ourselves, to those who falsely claim that the Bible  doesn’t command us to hate ourselves here are a few: 

John 12:25, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his  life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” 

Luke 14: 26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own  father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters,  yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

Luke 9: 25, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and  take up his cross daily and follow me.” 

Here is the thing; nothing in the Bible is ego boosting ever  suggested. In fact whenever self-love is mentioned in the Bible it  is mentioned as a something that comes from the fallen human  condition, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes  and cherishes it” Ephesians 5:29. Self-love is the default state for  sinners, and not a good default state, according to 2 Timothy 3:1-

2, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times  of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money,  proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful,  unholy.” Self-love and unholy are listed in the same category. So  what do we do? 

Instead of being selfish and encouraging such, instead of  loving the self, we should turn outwardly, be selfless, and lovers  of God first. 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And he died for all, that those  who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for  their sake died and was raised.” That is what we do, turn away  from ourselves and instead turn toward God loving Him with all  our heart, soul, mind, and body. We are to love Him with every  fiber of our being and then and only then through such divine love  we in humility count others more significant than ourselves,  Philippians 2:3. 

Basically, in the end don’t boast about yourself or become  charmed by the vanity inducing culture of self-love, but instead in  all that is good boast God above who is the source alone. 

Let us pray, 


Dear Heavenly Father, fill each of us with a spirit of humility,  to understand the extent of our fallen condition, and in a manner  that is never satisfied, turn towards you who washes us of our  wickedness, fills us with all that is good, and satisfies our aching  hearts. In your holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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